Summary: Chantel Hobbs once weighed 350 pounds. After losing 200 of them, she is now a personal trainer and spinning instructor who regularly runs marathons. The first part of this book is as much memoir as how-to. The second part describes a five phase program for exercising, eating less, and making the necessary changes in thought and behavior to make that happen. The first four are one month in duration and the last is the continuing and maintenance phase. A lot of books I read say that they are lifestyle changes, not diets. This one really means it. There’s no reason that one couldn’t do Phase 3 or 4 forever. And, in fact, Phase 5 is not much of change from those earlier ones.
Thoughts: This is the first book I’ve read that I think covers nearly everything that is needed to lose weight the way that I did. This is book #38 of my goal to read 70 books to support my healthy lifestyle, so you can see that makes this a pretty special book and highly recommended.
The first phase of her plan is to simply exercise thirty minutes five days a week and eat breakfast every day. The blogger at Bookfoolery and Babble took exception in her review to plunging into that much exercise immediately and for some good reasons. For myself, even when I was obese I almost always had some form of exercise in my life so thirty minutes a day was rarely going to risk more injury than carrying around that weight did. Developing the habit of exercise is often the hardest step, so I often recommend people go for the full thirty minutes every day even if it’s ten minutes of slow walking, ten minutes of gentle stretching, and ten minutes of dancing to the tunes on the radio. That’s a platform you can build on to reach as much exercise as necessary.
Hobbs gradually adds more focus on eating appropriate amounts of healthy foods into the next two phases along with more and varied exercise. I love how she treats the idea of making food boring in Phase 3. That’s a concept that I still need to work with. There are so many truly intriguing things in life that don’t add calories. Food can not be my major form of entertainment most days if I want to have a healthy weight. The food plan itself seems very workable: a long list of foods to emphasize, a short list of foods to avoid, and a direction to eat five meals a day averaging about 300 calories each. She’s fine with a meal or two being 400 calories while others are 200, which is pretty much how my food plan works.
Many pages of the book are taken up with photos and directions for performing strength training exercises, most using an exercise ball. They look great, but I’ve never been able to get myself to do exercises from a book. I have several DVDs that would do the same sort of thing, however, including one that came with my exercise ball. This is motivating me to make more regular use of them.
The author is Christian and uses her faith as part of her story-telling and support. As a lapsed Presbyterian, I have rejected books for doing too much of that. But this book didn’t bug me very much on that score. The one thing missing from this book that has been vital to my success was a daily reporting mechanism. Maybe she used God for that. I use a group of devotees of Judith Beck’s books at the 3 Fat Chicks forums.
When people ask me what I did to lose weight, I say that I ate less and exercised more. Which is true. But the more interesting question and answer is why and how did I get myself to eat less and exercise more. It involved changing pretty much everything about how I think and what I do every day. This book explains how to do that in a step by step fashion that involves some big dramatic changes and a lot of smaller gradual adjustments, just the way it worked in real life for me.
Appeal: My favorite weight loss books are by people who actually lost a significant amount of weight. Doctors and trainers who work with overweight patients can and do offer effective strategies, too, but there are things that you just don’t get if you’ve never experienced the kind of obsession with food that accompanies obesity. Chantel Hobbs gets it. She knows that breaking the bad habits and establishing good ones is a process that can be at once tremendously difficult and immeasurably rewarding. This book will appeal to anyone ready to tackle that challenge.
Reviews: Here are a couple of other reviews of the book Never Say Diet by Chantel Hobbs:
Have you read Never Say Diet? What did you think?